Our Silicon Valley neighbor and my ex-employer Yahoo! made waves this week when it announced plans to disallow remote work. Many corporate leaders like Virgin’s Richard Branson and oDesk CEO Gary Swart were quick to criticize Yahoo’s move, arguing that their employees are more productive when working from home (in contrast to Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, who suggested the opposite).
We at RingCentral think this debate is missing the point. Most businesses aren’t trying to decide IF they will allow telecommuting – they’re struggling with HOW they’ll maximize the productivity of their mobile workforces.
Distributed workforces are a reality today. According to the Families and Work Institute, nearly two-thirds of people (63 percent) work remotely at least some of the time. That’s twice the rate of just eight years ago.
What’s enabling the sharp increase in remote work? Cultural evolution is playing a role, the key drivers are technology mega-trends. Broadband penetration is at an all-time high here in the U.S. Nearly as pervasive as broadband are smartphones and tablets – 66 percent of business employees have at least two mobile devices for work. Most all business applications are migrating to cloud, making it easy for employees to access email, documents, faxes from any device anywhere.
Innovative companies like RingCentral are riding these mega trends to re-imagine business communications for today’s distributed workforce. RingCentral cloud phone service allows employees thousands of miles apart (at Yahoo I managed teams across Sunnyvale, New York and Bangalore) to connect and collaborate in real-time – call, fax, text or conference their colleagues from any device anywhere. Or share files from Box, Dropbox or Google docs and take notes on Salesforce while communicating with their customers.
For example, TruNorth Global, a cloud application developer, has employees across the country. This customer feature describes how TruNorth Global uses RingCentral and other best-in-class cloud products to keep its far-flung employees in sync.
So, while the media is busy debating the merits of telecommuting, we at RingCentral are focused on delivering a product that works the way companies do – with employees in offices, at home, and everywhere in between. What do you think? Are you in Yahoo’s camp or embracing remote work? There’s no right answer, as different businesses have very different needs. But the numbers are pretty hard to ignore: remote work is here, and – Yahoo notwithstanding – it looks like it’s here to stay.